This is a guest blog from Belinda Wick-Graham, Business & Economic Manager, Town of Minto.
On December 3, 2014 the Town of Minto was awarded a bronze designation as part of the Walk Friendly Ontario recognition program. This program works to “encourage municipalities to create and improve spaces and places to walk”.
The Town of Minto is a small rural municipality with a population of approximately 9,000 people spread amongst the communities of Clifford, Harriston, Palmerston and the former Minto Township and has been actively involved in developing a Walkable Community since 2005 and actually presented at the Walk21 International Conference on Walkability, which was held in Toronto in 2007.
Some of the initiatives that have been undertaken in Minto include:
· Touring other walkable neighbourhoods and bringing some of these sustainability guidelines back to Minto in the form of a Sustainable Community Guidelines for Development & Developers that was unanimously approved by Council.
· The Council of the Town of Minto has signed and supports the International Charter for walking.
· We have worked with University of Guelph Masters’ students to identify potential trail linkages and communicate with local landowners to determine a route.
· 3rd Year University of Guelph Landscape Architecture students were engaged to develop streetscape ideas that improved walking and cycling, these ideas then fed into a downtown Streetscape Plan that was unanimously approved and implemented by Council. This includes the development and creation of several public spaces in the downtown core.
· Minto is a key member of the Wellington County Active Transportation Plan process that links all 7 municipalities and the County to 49 trails/routes that connect into Wellington County and we have supported the development of trail signage standards and interpretive signage standards.
Walkable Communities are a key component of the Town of Minto Strategic Plan. We all know the health benefits of walking and we want to make it easy and enjoyable for our residents to be physically active but there are also numerous economic benefits associated with walkable communities.
a. Higher Housing Values
b. Attracting New Economy Workers
c. Attracting Tourists
d. Businesses are Relocating to Walkable Communities
e. Walkability assists Retail Markets and Downtowns
Today more than at any other time in history, thanks largely to technology people are choosing where they want to live over where they are going to work. In Minto we are trying to build a community that has a strong quality of life, and building a walkable community is part of that. Generally, communities that are safe, attractive, environmentally sound, diverse
and culturally rich are not only desirable places to live, but tend to thrive economically.
It is no longer good enough to have decent infrastructure (roads, water, and sewer). Solid infrastructure is important, but if we don’t provide that quality of life element we will quickly see our population decline and we will not be able to afford to pay for that infrastructure. This is one of the reasons why the Town of Minto invests in building a Walkable Community. The Walk Friendly Ontario designation will be used to not only expand and improve our efforts but to promote our community.